A’s and Quakes co-owner John Fisher was on hand at the Avaya Stadium ribbon-cutting ceremony in San Jose today. He was obviously there to celebrate end of the Quakes’ long journey to their own home. Fisher is known as the “soccer guy” in the ownership group, and Elliott Almond’s article sheds some light on that soccer background.
However, the Merc’s headline writer saw fit to make this about baseball with the title, “A’s owner John Fisher: Baseball team’s turn for new stadium.” Fisher was indeed asked about a ballpark for the A’s, and as you’d expect, he provided no new information. Instead he said this:
The Bay Area deserves great facilities. We live in the greatest area in the world and we have incredible teams that have performed tremendously well.
Whether you think Fisher was being intentionally vague or simply choosing to focus on the accomplishment at hand, it was Fisher’s first real statement about anything as part of the ownership group. That in itself is pretty big. I don’t necessarily expect more from him or a more visible role, though his presence at an earlier meeting with Libby Schaaf is perhaps promising. Keith Wolff was also at the Avaya Stadium ceremony, while Lew Wolff has been in Mesa for spring training activities.
Now take a look at these quotes.
This has been my biggest thing, ingress and egress for the (venue) and the parking are the two most important things to me.
In these focus groups we’ve had in there in the last week or two, the first question seven out of eight groups asked is, ‘Where is the parking?’
They’re showing all this grand building, a baseball stadium, there’s a football stadium there’s the arena, there’s all these residential things. And there’s no parking.
Did that come from Mark Davis? Or Lew Wolff?
And this one:
Parking is a key issue for us. We want surface parking surrounding the (venue) wherever we build it unless we’re in the heart of a downtown.
Davis? Or Wolff?
Now consider the the reaction to these quotes. The first set received little blowback at the time. The second had a lot of negative reaction. The content and sentiment were essentially the same. They have problems with how Coliseum City is conceived because it could cause problems with the way they operate their respective franchises. Then why such dramatically different reactions?
With Davis, many assume that either he’s more-or-less earnest about most everything: his handling of the stadium issue, his management of the Raiders, right down to the establishments he chooses to patronize. (That shouldn’t be confused with success.) Wolff, on the other hand, is considered forever the schemer looking for any excuse to leave. He’s the absentee owner, even though both guys are based in LA. Wolff has the anti-Oakland track record. His timing is spectacularly bad at times. Davis is Tommy Boy, all about honoring his dad. Whatever indiscretions or failures Davis has can be chalked up to being the family black sheep. He’s not really supposed to be here.
It just goes to show that even when two men have the same message, the prevailing narrative takes over. At some point these men will have to make deals, and those narratives will fade away. Or maybe they’ll be reinforced.